How Lighting Can Impact Our Mental Health.

Lighting has such an important role to play in our overall health and wellbeing. Yet, it’s importance is often overlooked and taken for granted when we’re furnishing our homes or office spaces.

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Lighting has such an important role to play in our overall health and wellbeing. Yet it’s importance is often overlooked and taken for granted when we’re furnishing our homes or office. We simply pick something that fits in with the aesthetic and hope for the best. However, it’s only as the dark nights start to creep in that we really begin to see how important the correct lighting really is.

“Lack of exposure to natural lighting is known for causing a disruption to our circadian rhythms, which later results in a variety of other physical and mental illnesses.”

Image by Fanny Rascle

Think about it. When the spring arrives and the sun finally appears, we generally begin to feel better. We’re often filled with newfound energy, productivity and the motivation to go out and do something!

In the winter, however, the opposite is evident. In the latter months of the year when the sun sets in the early afternoon, it leaves us with very little else but artificial light to guide our way. Our moods naturally take a slump during this time largely due to the absence of adequate natural lighting. This is when you can expect to see an increase in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Understanding how poor lighting can impact our mental health can help us to create safe, soothing spaces to counteract the winter blues.

Thinking of updating your home? Here are some of the BEST updates for 2021.


Psychological Effects of Natural Lighting.

We’re fortunate to live in an age where electricity is practically on tap. We can burn artificial lights all day and night provided we can foot the bill. However, although our normal bed-side lamp allows us the freedom to read until late into the night, there’s a catch.

Everyday indoor lighting is associated with lowered levels of melatonin, or the hormone responsible for regulating our Circadian Rhythms. Also known as the body’s natural clock, Circadian Rhythms are responsible for regulating various bodily functions. Even slight disruption can have negative impacts on both our mental and physical health. If the natural rhythm has been under fire for a long period of time it can lead to a variety of illnesses and disorders.

Lack of natural lighting can cause.

  • Hormone Imbalances.
  • Sleep Disruption.
  • Fatigue/Exhaustion.
  • Extreme weight changes due to increased/decreased appetite.
  • Poor concentration/focus.
  • Mood swings.
  • Increased irritability.
  • Memory issues.

The majority of the above symptoms are interlinked. For example without adequate sleep our moods and appetite can take a hit. This only accelerates the disfunction we’re experiencing in regards to our moods, energy levels, and brain function.


Tips to increase light exposure.

Let in the light!

Image by Rob Wingate.

The best way to allow more natural lighting into your home is by introducing more windows. Although this option isn’t always possible, for many homeowners adding additional windows not only helps to brighten things up, but it also helps save on energy costs.

Keeping heating costs low and reducing our carbon footprint is extremely important in the 21st century. Therefore, windows need to be durable, secure and thermally efficient. Aluminium windows possess all of these traits and look stylish while doing it. By opting for aluminium windows you’re not only making way for a brighter future, but you’re also saving on household bills.

It’s a win-win!

Re-decorate;

Sometimes a complete remodel isn’t always within our budget. Luckily there are other ways we can style our homes to allow for more naturally lit spaces. Mirrors are just one of many simple adjustments. They expand the path of the natural light by reflecting it from one surface to another.

When placing your mirror be mindful of its position. If you want to get the most out of your new-found light hack, be sure to place mirrors in the path of the natural sunlight so that they can easily bounce the reflection from one place to another.

Therapy lamps;

Mirrors aren’t the only budget-friendly way we can add light to our homes. Although not technically natural light, light therapy lamps are the next best thing to warding off the winter blues. They simulate sunlight and give off significantly more light than standard bulbs found in the household.

Various regions of Scandanavia have already started using them in classrooms to help combat the lack of sunlight during their winter months. It helps in reducing symptoms of fatigue among students and has also been linked to a reduction in symptoms of depression and SAD.

Read more about Light Therapy: Mayo Clinic.

Use your lunch break wisely;

Instead of sitting in the canteen or at your desk, spend your lunch break outdoors. If possible, take a quick walk, jog, or simply sit outside if you’re brave enough! Even in the winter months, you’re able to get the most of what little sunlight there is, even during working hours.

Image by Brooke Cagle.

As a homeowner who struggles with her mental health, I need all the help that I can get. Although my home has great natural lighting, it can always be improved upon by way of structural alterations or choice of decor.

Do you find your moods dipping during the darker months? What do you do, if anything, to combat it?

81 comments

  1. I agree that natural light is so important for our mental health. I work from home, so I can sit outside with my laptop during nice weather. I notice a huge difference in my mood and my productivity on those days! But on rainy or cold days, I’m inside where the natural light isn’t great. I think I’ll look into the therapy lamps you mentioned!

  2. This is very interesting. I never knew about the affects of lighting and mental health until reading your article.

  3. Lighting can absolutely change the way we feel. I know that during the winter, I need more light in the house or I’ll get depressed.

  4. Since moving to our new home we’ve had far more natural light. It just makes me feel a lot fresher and brighter in the morning than living in a home with minimal natural light. It can be so important for our mental and physical health.

    Thank you so much for stopping in and reading. x

  5. I have always felt the urgent need to live where there are huge windows and keep my curtains open always. I think it was just the need to feel good and the sunlight does that to me. And now my kids are all the same way.

  6. such an uplifting read) I know many things and learn a lot from what you share) Light is what we all need in abundance))))

  7. I’ll be discussing CR’s more in the future. I wrote my dissertation on them so I love the idea of re-exploring that. They’re so important for our overall health and wellbeing, and how we’re connected to the earth is a big part of it.

  8. Natural light really does make all the difference. I love letting in natural light during the day. Also you idea about going for walks is perfect! I have to remind myself to do that during the winter months.

  9. I try my hardest to get out in the daytime in the winter. I also am a tad unusual in sleeping with my curtains open – as I’m far enough into the countryside to not be troubled by any streetlighting, I fall asleep by the moonlight and starlight and my room faces North-East so I get the morning sun (when there is some) streaming onto my bed in the hopes of naturally waking me and settling my circadian rhythm.

    I’ll let you know when it starts to work 😉

  10. It certainly did the same for me. I only have heavy curtains in my living room, nowhere else has them because our windows are so small. I want to be able to let as much light in as possible.

  11. I’ve started opening the windows slightly in the morning and pulling back all the blinds to let light in. It really makes all the difference. Especially in the winter.

  12. My mood definitely takes a dip during the winter months – I’m really bad for staying cooped up indoors and I’ve come to the realisation I should utilise my lunch break and go out for a walk everyday. I went out for a walk at work yesterday because I wasn’t feeling great and it’s amazing what a bit of natural light and some fresh air can do to lift your mood 🙂

  13. I thought that natural light just provided light and warmth into this house. I did not know that it has a effect in our mental health. It made me rethink the arrangement of our house.

  14. Interesting read! I really enjoy natural lighting all around my house. It’s my favorite thing of ceiling to floor windows. Therapy lamps are a great investment. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Super post. Natural lighting has a huge effect on our mood and bodies. I pull open the blinds on waking and only close ’em well into the evening. The sun gives life so soak it up.

    Ryan

  16. I love the winter and the dark mornings, but i also don’t if that makes sense? It’s a strange relationship. It’s cozy on the one hand, but also depressing.

  17. I’ve read various articles detailing the connection between human depression and sunlight, specifically in the upper parts of the world i.e Scandanavia, Canada etc. It’s so fascinating!

  18. I thought the lunch break part would add a nice touch as I know not everyone has access to the outside all the time, esp not if working in offices or factories.

  19. Natural good lightings gives me a good vibes especially when I wakeup in the morning, and the sun rays kisses me. Hahaha the alarm clock won’t beat that feeling.

  20. I recall reading the the population of one especially rainy region here in the US suffering from a lot of depression. My moods are fairly even keeled year round, if they are up or down it’s unrelated to weather.

  21. Great post! I really always feel a bit BLEUGH when the nights and mornings are darker so light can have some an important part in my mood. I will definitely take on these tips thank you. Emma from ECBC x

  22. I love the darker nights but I have to agree that I’m so much bouncier and happy when the sun is shining in spring/summer.

    This advice is really useful, I’m definitely guilty of not getting outside enough throughout the year x

  23. This is such an interesting post – something so often overlooked but so effective for improving mental health xxx

  24. I start everyday with going outside and letting the light of the sun hit my face, as I say “Surya Deva”. Light is ESSENTIAL in my waking process. Great post, thanks.

  25. This is such a great post. It’s not an area I’ve come across in wellbeing and mental health do thanks for sharing!

  26. This was really interesting! As a mental health practitioner I totally agree with your advice! -L x

  27. This is something new I learnt today. But yeah Light obviously can affect our mood. Great insighful post!

  28. I’m reading more and more in the news about lighting negatively affecting us because of increased use of technology, like people spending more time on their phones and using them at bedtime. Then there’s all stuff with light pollution, day time lighting and working in an office, it’s endless. Definitely good to be aware of the possible knock-on effect it can have. Fantastic post!
    Caz xx

  29. I had no idea about facts like that. Live and learn))))) This things are a must to know and I’m glad I found this portal and this valuable information.

  30. Great post I wish I could have more natural light in my apartment because I notice a difference in myself in the winter months when it is dark. Perhaps I need to invest in a sad light

  31. love the tips! Having lots of natural light adds so much to the whole apartment. I love it!

  32. Good post SAD is definitely real. I feel more lethargic in winter and have a light to help me.

  33. Great post! It is so true, we need light! I live in Portland, Or where winters can really get you down because of the lack of light. It makes such a difference!

  34. This is so true! I do find my moods dipping in the winter, especially come January/February. I do try to get out each day unless it’s ridiculously freezing (I live in Wisconsin) and that does help.

  35. We have so much more natural light in our new house than our old one. Hopefully it’ll keep everybody a little happier this winter! We also make a point to bundle up and go out on nice, sunny days even if it is chilly. It is an instant mood lifter for the littles and works pretty well on mom and dad (could also be because the whining stops?)! I need to add some mirrors to help spread some light around!

  36. It’s so true. Natural light has a big impact on people’s mental health so I read this blog post that you really care about.

  37. What a great post! It is so true in my case, a lack of natural light in the winter has a negative impact on my mood. Thanks for sharing, I shall be looking into Therapy Lamps!

    H x

  38. I have problems sleeping at night. I have anxiety. I have to take medicine to help me sleep.

    Before I got new glasses I would look at my desk light- I was worried about losing my vision. My new glasses help me see a little bit better.

  39. Great post! I noticed this when I spent a few days at a hotel recently. I felt energized the entire weekend and the ambiance of the room had a lot to do with it.

  40. Oooh I can definitely relate. I feel way better, happier, and even more energetic and motivated when I’m surrounded by natural light!

  41. i very much agree, with how lighting can impact a person weather it’s their mental health or even their body in general. im always low on vitamin D, so i take the chewable kind (for kids). and during the summer, i find myself outside to soak up the sunshine (eventho im mostly in the shade) and enjoy the heat/warmth the day has to offer. in my bedroom, i have a salt lamp, i mostly use it for a nightlight, but i miss it when the lightbulb burns out. it also adds a nice warmth to my bedroom as well. i tend to go through many lightbulbs in a year, because i always have that salt lamp on, minus when im on vacation.

  42. I find myself feeling down a lot in the winter when there’s less sun. The mirror idea is great! I’m going to try that. My house and very little ways to let natural light in so any way I can find light is helpful.

  43. Great post, the effect of lack of sun is very evident on my own mood levels. I’ve begun to take a budget winter holiday over the last couple of years and this has really helped my mood.

    One thing l do love about winter, is being able to light candles . I love low warm lighting and find it really calming. I also love my diffuser which has low colour changes.

    Light is a powerful tool for mental health!

  44. My office has great lighting, as does my kitchen where I do a lot of my typing. I have to admit it was nicer when I could open the doors and let the air in!

  45. I second the point about using your lunch break wisely. Especially in these colder and shorter days. It is nice to have some real sunlight on you and not through glass.

  46. It’s amazing how much it actually means to us to see the sun and spend time out in natural sunlight. We’re like sentient plants!
    Thank you for stopping in and reading.

  47. We’ve just moved so remodeling is in our far, far future. But compared to our last home, this one is practically made of glass! Our last house had very little natural light.

  48. I find that my mental health dips in the winter purely because of the cold and lack of sunlight. Even while indoors, I prefer sitting by a window where I can make the most of the natural light.

  49. I used to live in the Northwest where the days were shorter and the winters longer. This was a big problem for many and the use of specialty lighting helped. Some people aren’t as susceptible and can manage more darkness than others. I suppose it’s good to know your limits and hopefully be able to accomondate your needs. Thanks for sharing.

  50. Please if i may ask, is there any food or supplement someone can take that can improved his or her memory?

  51. I have issues due to less light in the winter months. I try to open up the south facing windows more during the days I’m at home. One day I am hoping to do a remodel of our livingroom, and my main goal of that is to adda double window to the front for more light.

  52. I first noticed this correlatio when I visited New York in the fall/winter. I’m from Miami and born in the Bahamas. The trees were bare and the sun was rarely out. I felt so sad! I realized that I need to see the sun on a consistent basis so I could not live in a cold state.

  53. I can definitely relate to this post. Each year, I notice a change in my mood when it gets dark early, and on gloomy days. I love sunlight. I’ve never heard of therapy lamps. Definitely something to add to my shopping list. Very helpful read!

  54. We were just discussing winter and the lack of sunny days and it affects our mood and contentment. I always dread winter and dream of spring when the light returns.

  55. Although I don’t get SAD and I love Winter and the colder, darker nights, I can see why this affects mental health so much. I have a nice big window in my bedroom and a garden so I’m lucky that working from home, I can go outside if/when I need to x

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